Branding a Box

By Mash Bonigala

Few brands are as internationally recognized as good old Kraft macaroni and cheese. Known throughout the globe by a variety of names, most notably ‘Kraft Dinner’, this staple can be recognized by their iconic blue box with its distinctive design. However, Kraft is ‘breaking out of the box’ , so to speak, by redesigning the package that we are all so familiar with.

The changes are few but notable. First, the distinctive blue color is a little lighter, either to give a more modern feeling or to feel more youthful in keeping with its solid share of the under-ten market. It’s a good thing the company kept some form of the color blue, because many people simply know it as ‘the blue box’. There is still a spoonful of the product prominently displayed to appeal to younger consumers and the parents who buy for them. The most notable difference is that the well-known mac and cheese logo design has been modified and enclosed in a circle tha forms part of the head of a smiley face. The mouth, of course, is a piece of the fluorescent macaroni that we all remember from childhood. Another friendly element that has been introduced is the use of a lower case font for the name of the product, which is likely another move to market to the brand’s young fans.

Kraft has long used the phrase, “the cheesiest” in their marketing, and this is now a prominent part of the blue box. Underneath the smiley face are the words, “Smmmile, it’s…” followed by this tagline. The changes and the new official tagline add up to two important factors for branding food logo and package design: appeal to target market. Children are the ones who convince parents to spend twice as much on name brand pasta, so creating a child-friendly box is and should be priority number one. It’s the only lunchroom staple that smiles at young consumers before it is even placed in the cart.

Marketing to young consumers is a tricky task. As Kraft knows well, children hold a large amount of power over their parents, especially when it comes to what foods they will and will not eat. On the other hand, many parents need a little persuasion to buy this product. Although it is easy enough to prepare, it is basically starch and fluorescent food coloring. We like it as next as the next person, but you can’t call it ‘healthy’, ‘local’, or any of the phrases that seem to resonate with modern parents.

We all like to smile, and those of us with children like to see them smile as well. This box brings up warm, fuzzy feelings and memories of sitting in front of our steaming bowl of orange macaroni. Kraft macaroni has become and remains an American staple through good marketing, good logo design, and appealing packaging. This new blue box will likely resonate with young consumers and their parents, keeping the more expensive choice also the more popular one in the generation to come.